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July 31, 2015

What Else Did Reid and Durbin Do Today?

When not meeting with President Barack Obama or waiting for one of the longest Senate votes ever to conclude, the Senate’s two top Democratic leaders found time Wednesday for a few issues that won’t make such big headlines.

Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin was elated that the the federal District Court for the District of Columbia tossed new swipe fee regulations — written by the Federal Reserve — that were looser than the ones the Illinois Democrat pushed in his quest to restrict the fees debit card networks charge merchants.

“The Fed’s 2011 decision to bend to the lobbying by the big banks and card giants cost small business and consumers tens of billions of dollars and did not do enough to rein in the anti-competitive, anti-consumer practices of Visa and MasterCard,” Durbin said in a statement.

Durbin had challenged the Fed’s rule making, saying in a court filing that it didn’t line up with Congressional intent. The court has sided with Durbin.

Durbin also made time to appear at a Senate Commerce hearing on the risks energy drinks pose, especially when marketed to children.  He brought pictures and props (24 oz. cans of energy drinks) to the hearing.

“These 24 ounce cans of Monster Energy and Rockstar are sold in convenience stores right next to Gatorade and soft drinks, but just one of these cans contains the same amount of caffeine as almost 7 cans of soda — which contain about 35 milligrams of caffeine each,” Durbin said during that appearance.

As for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, the Nevada Democrat found time for a meeting with Interior Department officials on an important issue in Western states. Reid and his Senate colleague, Republican Dean Heller, joined other members of the Nevada delegation for a “Sage Hen Summit.”

Many westerners are concerned about the possibility that the sage grouse, a large bird known for its elaborate mating ritual, could be listed as an endangered species.

The debate over the bird’s future had temporarily delayed confirmation of Interior Secretary Sally Jewell.

“Conservation and restoration of sagebrush habitat in Nevada and throughout the West is vital to maintaining healthy sage grouse populations and thwarting a threatened or endangered listing that will negatively affect Nevadans and our rural economies,” Reid said in a statement.

“Should the sage grouse be listed as an endangered species, Nevada’s way of life and our state’s economic recovery will be in jeopardy,” Heller warned in the same announcement. “I am committed to working with Governor Sandoval and the rest of the delegation to take steps on the federal level that complement and reinforce strategies developed in the state to prevent such a listing.”

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